Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nature and Mental Wellness

I just went for a 20 minute walk and it was wonderful. It's a beautiful day outside - the sun is shining, the weather is mild and the air is sweet, flowers are blooming, and it felt good just to be outside and moving.

I forget sometimes just how good being outside can be for a person's mental health. I forget sometimes how good physical exercise is for a person's mental health.

Recently I took a break from my three times a week running habit. I figured doing yoga and lifting weights at home would be good enough for awhile, and I would use the time to hang out with my daughter instead. It was a good idea for a couple of weeks, because Caitlin and I went hiking a few times, which was great. But then we got busy, and hiking stopped happening. Consequently, I wasn't getting outside almost at all - and I felt a huge difference in my mood and attitude. Both plummeted extremely quickly. I felt short-tempered, irritated by everything, and extremely short on patience. There was absolutely no go-with-the-flow for a couple of weeks. I behaved in ways that I am now embarrassed by - to complete strangers and to people that are dear to me. Hence my last post about feeling stressed and out-of-balance.

I started running again last week - a total of one single mile last week, and so far only 2.25 miles this week - but that combined with the daily walk I am now taking on my morning break at work has caused an amazing turnaround in my mood, attitude and behavior. I feel more calm, less scattered and overwhelmed, less overworked, more able to handle everyday stressors, and more accepting of things that just a week ago seemed completely unacceptable to me. The change has been, simply put, astounding. The fact that such a small and simple change can have such a huge impact on my life is just amazing to me.

Being outside is healing, a balm to the soul and an antidote to the stress of daily life. It causes an uplift in mood, an increase in the ability to focus, and higher levels of general happiness among other things. Our connection to the natural world around us - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - is undeniable.

I am glad to be back in the land of the living - from now on I will remember how important it is to get my daily dose of Mother Nature.

Happy Wednesday - I hope you get to play outside today!

And now here's a pretty picture for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Burn Out, Guilt, and Balance

Tired and guilty....

I feel burned out while also feeling guilty for feeling burned out. Between work, kids, house, meals, groceries, laundry, husband, social life.... I feel like I don't have a minute to myself and I'm always at least a little bit tired. But I know that that is how everyone is feeling, and I feel guilty for thinking I'm any different. I feel guilty for not accepting this burned-out feeling. I don't like it. I don't like constantly being on the go, constantly having more to do than time to do it in. I feel guilty for not being able to handle such a busy life (which compared to some people is not really that busy, but comparison is the devil). I feel like I should be able to "do it all" with grace, humor, and patience, but I can't. I don't know why. I know that this is what our American society expects of me, and I know some people thrive on being busy, but I don't, and I have to remind myself that there's nothing wrong with that.

I am craving simplicity.

I thrive on balance, and I feel like things are way out of balance right now.

My husband works constantly - he hardly takes any time off. But he also is almost completely autonomous - he can do just about whatever he wants whenever he wants (I am actually the one that makes that possible), while I am bound by working around his schedule, what my boss needs and what the kids need. I feel like that makes a big difference. He doesn't seem to have any problems with his work schedule and his sense of balance. I wonder if I were only taking care of myself, would I feel this stretched thin? Probably not.

So I'm burned out, I need a vacation, I need some time to myself on a more regular basis, and I feel guilty for all of it. I need to reorganize my thought patterns and let go of this guilt somehow. Taking care of myself - taking TIME for myself - is not something to feel guilty about. This is the only life I get, I should be living it in a way that doesn't constantly deplete my resources.

A vacation by myself at this point is out of the question. So what do I do?

I know I need more exercise, more sleep, more yoga, more creativity, more time at the beach, but I don't know how to fit all that into my already packed schedule. Something's got to give.

I feel like there has to be a way to feel more balanced, more rested and more at ease while still accomplishing everything I need to accomplish, but I haven't figured out how to do it. It just seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done and still give my time to my dear ones that need it.

Balance is the key that is missing. The guilty feeling is useless and has got to go.

Happy Monday - here's to not overworking and under-playing!